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Comment: Re:How about the "bio-fuels" ? (Score 3, Interesting) 308

by cduffy (#47989255) Attached to: Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair With Astonishing Crop Yield Breakthrough

Corn ethanol is ridiculously inefficient. Sugar-based biofuels, by contrast, can have a quite good return and are actively used by developing countries in South America that don't have money to waste on things that don't make economic sense (but aren't used in the US because we have relatively little land able to grow sugarcane).

In short, it's more complex than either "all bio-fuels are good" or "all bio-fuels are evil". This shouldn't be a surprise -- few things are so simple.

Comment: Re:Paying by the MB (Score 1) 531

by cduffy (#47763815) Attached to: Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

We've been paying for roads by the mile for decades, via gas taxes -- an effective way of making people who drive more, pay more.

That might be true if gas taxes were more than double what they are now.

Funds from gas taxes go to a fund accessible to the federal highway administration -- which is to say that they don't pay for city streets at all, which are covered purely by property taxes. Even then, the FHWA only covers about 49% of highway costs, meaning that the majority of the costs of highways remain borne by the states, and are paid out of different taxes.

(This is a sore point because so many folks wrongly consider cyclists freeloaders on account of not paying gas taxes -- when the amount of wear put on roads is proportional to cubed vehicle weight, making the road wear caused by cyclists negligible, whereas the property taxes and state sales taxes paid are not).

Comment: Re:Please stop linking paywalled papers. (Score 5, Informative) 74

publishers pay the people who fronted money for the study

If only they did.

Funds paid to scientific publishers pay for editing, not for the original studies. Moreover, peer review -- the most important part of the process -- is almost universally done for free by other scientists in the field; the publishers are just mediators in that process, adding minimal value.

Comment: Re:so they got an anti-abortion judge (Score 1) 104

by cduffy (#46434265) Attached to: BPAS Appeals £200,000 Fine Over Hacked Website

I may be wrong on this, but in the US, HIPAA would rule the day on such a case, no? That would mean that 200k Pounds Sterling would be a wee drop in the bucket compared to the fine such an organization would face here should it face a data leak of that magnitude.

You're making substantial assumptions about what kind of teeth HIPAA has. When I worked at a medical software company -- wherein I was directly responsible for systems handling patient data, went through HIPAA training, and worked directly with our HIPAA compliance officer to determine technical measures -- it was damned near toothless; what we spent hiring said officer and taking said measures was much more than we would have been fined for a single breach. (We wouldn't have been able to sell the system or satisfy investors unless we could pass an audit, so it was the right business decision to make, but much of what our compliance officer told us was how much work we didn't have to do; the actual compliance requirements often fell far short of what I considered best practices).

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 2) 362

by cduffy (#46383875) Attached to: Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor

I will never understand how flowing money into an area is bad.

Pricing people out of the homes and neighborhoods they're established in is disruptive. If your rents go up by 50% -- or you own, but your property taxes double -- that's a nontrivial personal hardship, particularly for folks who don't have wiggle room in their budgets to start with.

I live in East Austin -- a historically poor neighborhood. Last time I got involved in community governance was interesting -- went to a meeting to discuss whether a developer should be given a license to redevelop a recycling plant into a condominium project.

Half the people there -- including the faction I showed up with -- wanted to insist on mixed-use development with storefront space. The other group -- representing historical neighborhood residents -- wanted to ensure that low-income housing was included in the development. It wasn't feasible to accommodate both of us with the available funding; suffice to say that the debate process was informative.

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 0, Troll) 362

by cduffy (#46382363) Attached to: Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor

[...] everything to do with gentrification - Not a bad word, BTW, it just means making the slums safe for human habitation again.

So people who make less money than you are also less than human?

If you can't appreciate why gentrification is a problem, I suggest that you're living in quite a bubble.

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